My husband gave me a three-month Birchbox subscription for Christmas. I knew I would love getting a box of beauty and lifestyle product samples in the mail each month, but I was not prepared for how delighted I would be by the entire brand experience Birchbox brings to me.


A brand experience hits on many, if not all of the five senses, as well as that all-encompassing sixth sense of how something makes you feel. A logo, website, packaging, the quality and perceived value of a product, customer service, even hold music …these are all part of a brand experience. When a department store places your purchases into a high-quality paper bag instead of a flimsy plastic one, or ties that perfect Tiffany & Co. bow – those details make a difference for many consumers.


Here are the ways Birchbox is winning at the brand experience game:


  • Packaging: Every Birchbox is a nice-quality, two-piece cardboard box. Each month features a different design with great colors, and coordinating tissue inside, nestling your surprise samples. Some boxes include interactive components like stickers. Birchbox has even invited followers to assist with box design. What a great way to engage their audience! I am finding ways to reuse the boxes because I don’t want to throw them away. (I’m usually more of a “tosser” than a “keeper,” but this packaging is just too good to toss.)
  • Communication: Every communication I get from Birchbox feels personal, whether it’s an email, a print piece, or a greeting when I log into the website. I have known what to expect throughout my subscription experience, and I receive relevant updates on a regular (but not annoying) basis. Which leads to my next point.
  • Drip marketing: Birchbox has their drip marketing down. They send me timely communications that are relevant to me and my recent activity, or invite me to engage in new ways.
  • Invitations: Birchbox is great at compelling subscribers to become more involved with their brand. You can review products, customize your Birchbox for a given month, or even join their network of bloggers. As a subscriber, these opportunities make me feel like I am in control. Whether that is true or not, it’s what I perceive, and there is value in that.
  • Incentives: Subscribers who submit online reviews of product samples they receive can earn bonus points, which translate to dollars that can be used toward future Birchbox product purchases. Unlike so many incentive programs that take forever to reap any benefit (remember Elaine Benes and her Atomic Sub card?) it’s actually possible to earn real dollars toward a future purchase within a few weeks’ time.
  • Service: I submitted a question via the Birchbox website and received a friendly, timely response which not only addressed my question, but actually sort of “bent the rules” to accommodate my request. Nice!


My subscription is up this month, and I will be renewing it. Someone said to me the other day, “So, you’re paying $10 a month for a box of free samples?” This person doesn’t get it. (To be fair, Birchbox holds zero appeal for this person, but I still say this person doesn’t get it.) I’m paying for the pleasure of what for me, is an affordable luxury. I’m paying for the ceremony around the delivery of my Birchbox each month. (If you are a Birchbox subscriber, you know the company absolutely creates ceremony around everything they do.) It’s a little present, just for me! Even if I get a sample I don’t like, I still look forward to that box arriving on my doorstep each month.


I’m paying for how my Birchboxes make me feel. That is a testament to a remarkable brand experience.


How about you? Which brands are offering you your favorite experiences? Share them with us in the comments!

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Showing 4 comments
  • Jennifer Wegner

    Yes, I feel the same way about this company. I appreciate the origin story and that the company was founded by two women. Like you, I appreciate the ceremony and quality of the experience while also knowing that I have travel size products at the ready for frequent travel. More companies would benefit in learning from Birchbox!

  • Sharon Stanton

    Jennifer, thank you for your comment! We agree – Birchbox is doing many things right.

  • Martha Shea

    We received a gift of Zingerman’s Cheese of the Month Club – what a great experience! Several cheeses arrived in a beautiful box, wrapped to save and enhance the quality of the cheese. The box also included a notebook and accompanying three page information sheets on each cheese. Lots of info on country of origin, how it was made, the cellaring process, who the specialist in that country is, etc. Each box was delicious and also a great learning experience and we have our notebook for future references for purchases. Some companies do get it right and it’s a pleasure when they do.

  • Sharon Stanton

    Martha – yes! Receiving a Zingerman’s box is a huge treat, and not just because of the delicious food inside. They do a great job of incorporating entertaining education into their overall brand experience. Thanks for your comment!

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